Gary Hofmeister: Extortion and Lois Lerner

Advertisement

A 15-year-old sore. An itch that needs to be scratched.

I ran for the U.S. Congress in 1998, winning the primary contest but losing to the incumbent in the general election. After the campaign, I received a dreaded letter from the Federal Election Commission notifying me that they were auditing my campaign for irregularities. Even though I had been fastidious in following all the rules and had a well-regarded CPA who also was a public official as my volunteer campaign treasurer, I was nervous because I had been advised by a close friend who ran two losing campaigns for Congress that the FEC was known to target conservatives even when no wrongdoing was present. Boy, was he right!

For the 25 years I had run my jewelry store to that point, I always had taken a very low salary on a consistent basis and sporadic bonuses when the company could afford it. Shortly after taking a bonus from my own corporation, I loaned my campaign $25,000. They interpreted this as using corporate funds for my campaign, a violation. That I had operated this way for 25 years easily was proven by showing them the records from my accountants. We may as well have been talking to the walls. Twice they sent out low-level operatives to check things out. I remember my volunteer treasurer, my campaign manager and me almost yelling at these two gentlemen to look at the evidence. It really felt like “Alice in Wonderland” with a guilty verdict first and trial later. They obviously were instructed to decide against me so blatantly that we could hardly believe what we were experiencing.

Ultimately, I hired counsel to advise me of my options. They were clear: Pay the extortion fine of $25,000 or go to trial, which likely would cost $100,000-plus in legal fees with no guaranteed outcome. I paid along with a few thousand to the professionals who advised me through the process. It was and is painful to know that you are 100 percent innocent and realize you have been had by your own government.

Now we find out the infamous (take the Fifth) Lois Lerner was in charge of the Enforcement Division of the FEC during this period. Who’da ever thunk? She was the main power behind the suing of the Christian Coalition in the largest FEC suit in history, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and lost employee hours. And what likely is the most well-known individual persecution by the FEC, Al Salvi, who was running against Dick Durbin for U.S. Senate in 1996, said he was told by Lerner personally that she would drop the suit if he agreed to never run for office again. Salvi not only refused that “Godfather”-style offer but also spent the $100,000-plus to fight the FEC to a successful vindication for the loan he made to his campaign, something I could not afford to pursue.

As my friend had advised me in the beginning, the FEC has a history of targeting conservatives with the apparent primary purpose of discouraging them from running for office. And as is similar with the IRS, they essentially are a Gestapo-style organization, and once they decide you are their mark, your options are to pay up or pony up incredible resources to fight them in court. Few have the disposable income to take the latter course. Thus, this leads me to the dictionary definition of “extortion”: the crime of obtaining something of value by the abuse of one’s office or authority. Yep. That’s them.

Gary Hofmeister is the owner and operator of Hofmeister Personal Jewelers in downtown Steamboat. He is a director of The Steamboat Institute and a former Republican nominee for Congress in the 10th District of Indiana.

Comments

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

And that "special place" is right next to voters who tolerate, and even condone and support this crooked, backhanded, criminal behavior simply because it is directed at their pollitical opponents.

If I thought they knew what a conscience was I'd ask them to search their's.

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

Weren't you the one who wrote in this blog right after the election something like "to the victor goes the spoils", Bill??

Exactly the kind of person I'm talking about. No crime rises beyond "whining" when the victim is your pollitical adversary, eh? Gun running, IRS intimidation, wire-tapping... All in a days work for your goose-stepping heroes...

1

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

This rule is fairly simple. A person cannot use his corporation for his campaign. If a candidate wants to utilize his corporate wealth for his campaign then he has to pay himself and then he can freely use the money for his campaign.

Simply convert the illegal corporate loan to a payment to yourself and make it a personal loan to the campaign. Candidates do that all the time. They loan their campaigns money from their personal wealth.

0

cindy constantine 1 year, 3 months ago

Scott- Re-read the part where Gary "paid himself a bonus" personally then loaned his campaign $25,000 personally--his was not a case of an "illegal corporate loan" as you insinuate. Business owners pay bonuses to themselves or take draws all the time as cash flow allows. The business owners I know all take very small salaries because employees, inventory and other expenses always take priority over paying oneself. Have you ever owned a business and employed workers?

2

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

Surprisingly I found the FEC staff report for the Gary's campaign. http://www.fec.gov/audits/1998/Authorized/GaryHofmeisterRIN1998.pdf

The $25,000 issue appears to be that his company paid his son's Dreamtech Inc company $25,000 which then Gary endorsed over to his campaign. FEC report says that looks like an illegal corporate contribution. FEC asked for documentation on what work hard Dreamtech done and why did Dreamtech transfer the $25,000 to the campaign.

And the FEC report hardly reads as some vendetta. It list all the reporting violations made during the campaign that the FEC accepted much later corrected filings as acceptably addressing.

There were also questions on the repaying of the personal loan. Since it is a campaign then the personal loan must be repaid by sources of money that could contribute to a campaign. The FEC said it wasn't clear how the loans had been repaid and wanted more documentation.

2

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

And a little research into the Al Salvi case (https://www.charitableplanning.com/document/813410) shows that the case was not dismissed because it was "successful vindication for the loan he made to his campaign".

No, the FEC failed to follow state law and have a state licensed lawyer file the lawsuit. And then failed to timely respond to the district judge's order to have local counsel. And then failed to follow court procedures and refiled the case without proper notice or appealing the original dismissal order.

So the appellate court decision says that the district court abused it's discretion in dismissing the original FEC lawsuit with prejudice, but the FEC so screwed up the process that the FEC couldn't appeal the second dismissal because they needed to first appeal the first dismissal and get that overturned before the second filing of the case.

So the facts regarding corporate loans to a campaign was never ever considered in this case. The case was dismissed because the FEC couldn't follow Illinois court procedures.

0

Pat West 1 year, 3 months ago

Now is Mark really saying;

"Common dirtbag gangsters that deal this way on the streets often wake up with their throats cut" "When some "Lois Lerners" start to disappear without a trace perhaps others will start to get the message."

I'm all for free speech but aren't death threats on the Internet a serious matter?

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

Wasn't threatening it, Pat. Wasn't even advocating it, Pat. I was speculating what it might take to get some changes made, Pat. And yes, I'm really saying it, Pat. As Fred rightly put it below "...a tool for the [as far as the justice department is concerned]powerless..." Perhaps you'd recognize it better in Travon language: "No justice-no peace"!!

2

Fred Duckels 1 year, 3 months ago

This behavior is so commonplace that it rarely raises eyebrows anymore. Big government with all it's employees, unions having a symbiotic relationship with their elected representatives and bolstered by handouts to assure the dependency vote is a powerful force especially when trumpeted by a faithful media. Detroit here we come! Mark abuse of power this way will certainly render civil unrest as a tool of choice for the powerless.

2

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

Or maybe the public should learn that the paper does no fact checking in letters to the editor.

Gary's letter says it was a normal way of doing business. FEC agrees that most of the checks he wrote to himself and then gave to the campaign were okay. But the one that he wrote to his son's Dreamtech company which Gary then endorsed to the campaign was a problem. So is Gary saying that writing checks to another company which he then endorses to his campaign is a normal way of doing business?

Gary says the Al Salvi case shows that similar circumstances were vindicated. Nope, that case was dismissed because of procedural errors.

1

Tim Keenan 1 year, 3 months ago

Save your breath, Scott. They've decided that this case fits within their conspiracy narrative, and nothing you say -- no matter how many facts you have to back you up -- is going to matter. Kind of like that supposed IRS scandal they were all salivating over.

I was just as guilty of this type of mindset when Bush and Cheney were in charge.

Speaking of, can't wait to see Dick and Liz next month! We'll prepare a warm welcome for them.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

Tim,

Well, Gary's complaint goes back to when Republicans had control of Congress so the conspiracy against him was bipartisan.

Dick and Liz are well worth ignoring. Their only current power is in getting speaking fees from elderly Republicans. His views divides the country in a way that is very favorable to Democrats. And he was personally so wrong on two wars that there is little reason to listen to him and no reason to trust him.

There is much in government to dislike, but the problems with government can be made by sticking to the facts and not believing in personal vendettas. Locally, YVHA is an ongoing disaster that continually discredits affordable housing efforts. The SB City Council has an immense amount of money to spend and yet thirsts for more while failing for years to spend modest amounts on stormwater infrastructure. Town of Oak Creek for at least 6 years years continues to be the only water district in the State unable to come up with a rate plan for commercial accounts based upon usage. Oak Creek has land use rules based upon the self delusion that it has a downtown pedestrian district that expands past Main St.

0

Chris Hadlock 1 year, 3 months ago

Once again, Mark Hartless beleives that armed insurrection and violence is the answer to what he believes is wrong with our society. Personally, I find that appalling and reject any assertion that revolution is a better choice for our country than debate and discussion.

Gary's letter has a point and a place that he represented well without resorting to threats and violence. Perhaps the Sheriff should investigate Mark's threats against public officials as they seem to be increasing in frequency and tone. Is it really acceptable in our society to physically threaten public officials that you disagree with. My personal opinion is no.

Come on Pilot, are you really going to allow these kinds of threats to be posted on your blogs?

2

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

I believe exactly what Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson believe Chris... "No justice-No peace!" What threats, Chris??? And Chris, I'm GLAD you find it appalling. That's what I'm here for... chumming for dingbats...

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

I would submit, Tim, that you may still be guilty of that " type of mindset" if you indeed believe that what went on recently at the IRS is "supposed".

When IRS heads take the 5th there's something very, very wrong.

These are people who are supposed to be above reproach, and who are supposed to serve ALL the citizens of this nation fairly and without favoritism.

When an IRS agent can't answer questions on THAT subject without risking self-incrimination there is nothing "supposed" about it. Something is very, very wrong.

And when fully half of the electorate makes excuses for these almost certain criminals rather than demand that they explain what they were doing while on the American citizens' clock then something is very, very wrong with that electorate too.

2

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

I wonder, Chris, how you would feel if I actually did do something criminal and then local law enforcement refused to prosecute me because they tended to sympathise with my point of view?

Well, that's exactly what's going on elsewhere, Chris. And some of us are just as"appalled" by that ACTUAL crime as you seem to be by my mere words.

1

Scott Wedel 1 year, 3 months ago

So we all agree that Gary's letter on FEC unfairness is discredited and now the discussion is moving to the IRS scandal? Okay.

The IRS approval of political action corporations is a largely manufactured scandal. Whether or not there were delays in issuing approvals, I haven't seen anything suggesting that the approvals mattered. There were no IRS cease and desist orders given to those that didn't seek approvals. Stephen Colbert's very well publicized organization never even sought IRS approvals because his legal advice was that pre-approval was not needed.

0

Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 3 months ago

Ah yes Scott - spinning as always regards whether Mr Hoffmeister has a legitimate beef or not. I will let Mr. Hoffmeister reply if he chooses. Tim chose from out of no where - well actually highlighting his political beliefs - to bring up the IRS scandal. Time will tell whether it was "manufactured" - your words - or not. As all administrations try to deflect scrutiny on potential problems we can all hope the truth will come out. As this administration (well Obama any way) had promised us the most transparent administration we should get all the facts. Isn't that what you would want as well.

1

beverly lemons 1 year, 3 months ago

I appreciated Mr. H's letter to this paper, as well as the open forum to discuss it.

What I don't understand is why someone is allowed to interject their nasty, threatening vitriol all over every post. He does not stay on topic, writes only snarky insults, and threatens those he can not control. Is hijacking a discussion by name calling and threatening something the Pilot supports? I would like to the see the editors ban this type of behavior, as well as people who use this forum to attack and threaten folks.

Fair minded exchanges of ideas contribute to journalistic integrity. The "bully on the playground" mocks the entire process and pollutes any chance of meaningful discussion.

2

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

Please tell me specifically Beverly what "threat" I have made... Using words like "threatening, snarky, and bully do not make me one any more than calling you a ___ makes you one. If you don't like my perspective then try to summon the intellect to accurately dispute my espoused beliefs, instead of whining to the grown-ups for help with the "bully". And BTW... you are "off topic".

1

Kevin Chapman 1 year, 3 months ago

Mark you are a very paranoid person. Sound the alarms the government's coming to take your rights away! Put the bong down and go for a hike or a bike ride. You surely need some fresh air. Gary if you want to see highway robbery check the prices at your jewelry store.

2

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't smoke, Kevin. And it sounds a lot like you are calling Gary a thief. I'm sure that's hurtful speech that might ought to be banned. Perhaps it might even be considered defamation, or liable... hmmmmm... I did get some fresh air today; still believe what I wrote yesterday though.

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

And the difference between Gary and Uncle Scam is that one does not have to do business with Gary if one does not wish to. Purposefully equating the two for the sake of this argument (discussion) when that glaring contrast exists is either un-intelligent or dishonest on your part.

1

rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. They must be the privileged set. The working person doesn't have time for this tripe, if the means to participate. Feed the Fish. Cry me a river. And don't get a blister.

0

Chris Hadlock 1 year, 3 months ago

No Mark, I could care less what you do with your life. I do not know you, you do not know me. What I disagree with is your consistent and strident calls for violence over discussion. Suffice it to say that I disagree and I hope that most of the readers out there feel more like I do than what you propose.

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

First Chris it's "I COULDN'T care less..." Not "...COULD care less. Secondly, I don't believe that because I was doing what I do with my life yesterday when you chimed in complaining about what I was doing with my life. Thirdly, your disagreeing with my calls for violence sounds very heroic and magnamous and all that; except that I have not "called for violence", rather I have predicted it. Do you gripe about the weatherman when he predicts rain, or do you try to understand why it's going to rain-when it's gonna' rain, and what causes the rain???

1

Matthew Stoddard 1 year, 3 months ago

Actually, when someone says, "I could care less", it means they're being nice by saying they actually care...very slightly...and could care less, if so warranted. It's not like when people use "irregardless." You don't "irregard" anything, so why use "irregardless"?

0

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

No, they are not being nice, they are proving that they are woefully unfamilliar with (or ignorant of) the english vocabulary; the same kind of ignorance that leads people to call predictions "threats".

0

rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

Chris -- Not to worry. Paper tiger. Those born into their wealth, are the most strident to defend it. Those of us who had to work for anything we've got, are more likely to share it.

Recently I've read of several studies -- some through NPR (no citations, you don't pay me enough, Google it) which suggest poor people contribute far more, in proportion to their income, than rich people, to charity...

The privileged can keep their hard-inherited cash, and stew away in paranoia that somebody might grab it, lest they have to work, besides driving Daddy's tractor...

I get by, with a little help from my friends.

0

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

I can't tell you how utterly SHOCKED I am to hear that NPR said that poor people contrubute more than us "rich folks". Except... that NPR is funded by us "rich folks"... But other than that I'm sure everything gets done by folks like yourself... I'm so glad to hear that all you "po-folks" are starting to pick up some of your slack. I am so disappointed in myself for not aspiring to your level of commitment and contribution to society. Oh, to be one of those like you Rhys... "getting by" in the world while single-handedly clothing and feeding and curing the down-trodden.

1

rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

Mark, if you saw me at work, you wouldn't even make eye contact, let alone deign speak to me, as I am several classes below you, down in the "servant" caste. I'd love to babble with you, but now I've got to catch a bus to the pit. Ciao!!

0

cindy constantine 1 year, 3 months ago

Mark--you need a "chill-pill" or maybe just a girlfriend. Waaaaay too much anger in your posts today.

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

On who's scale does one find "waaaaaay", Cindy?

For example: "Waaaaay" too hot for polar bears is still "waaaaay" too cold for Jimmy Buffet...

1

John St Pierre 1 year, 3 months ago

Too bad Dick and Liz are going to be up at the Eagles Nest fortress away from anyone asking why 4100 dead americans in IRAQ??? But up there is La La land they can look down on the masses and smile.... if the GOP and right want and open and honest debate why not have it at the library or CMC... Bennet did..... instead of a screened audience of robotic minds...

1

Robert Huron 1 year, 3 months ago

I find it appalling that Liz and Mr. Dick will be here in Steamboat. I can give you 4855 good reasons why Mr. H. should not have invited him. That is how many of our troops died when he lied us into Iraq. He has brought us Ann Coulter, Karl Rove and now Mr. Death.
Just before his election to VP in an interview Dick was asked why the elder Pres. Bush did not invade Iraq in 1991. He said if they did it would cause a civil war and it would be a total disaster and it would cost the US Billions and many lives. It was one the few times Cheney was right. But why did he lie to Pres. Bush to get him to invade in 2003? Very simply money. He and his Defense Contractors friends like Halliburton made $100's of Billions on this war with no bid cost plus 10% contracts and in turn his personal wealth grew to $90 million. Each day our surviving troops have to wake up to no arms, no legs and some no brains and in turn Cheney and his cronies laugh all the way to the bank.
I can't believe any true American would give this liar a nickel of their money. Save it to next year's speaker. I hear it will be George Zimmerman.

0

Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 2 months ago

famous white hispanic saves 4 Americans famous black caucasian refuses to save 4 Americans. sad but true Maybe we can get Obama here as speaker to talk about why we have so many murders in Chicago and what he is doing about it. Chicago murders top Afghanistan death toll

Published: 01/16/2013 at 1:48 PM

The death toll by murder in Chicago over the past decade is greater than the number of American forces who have died in Afghanistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to a police analysis. Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/chicago-murders-top-afghanistan-death-toll/#CKjpvh5zJxRdmcGb.99

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

A bigger, more powerful government (that intimidates it's citizens and the press) is somehow the answer for the Dick Cheney's of the world ??? Bring that one home for us Robert...

And dragging a man down to Cheney's level?

A man who was found "Not Guilty" by 6 people who know way more about his innocence or guilt than you ever will ???

0

jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Robert I agree with your comments on Cheney. Now explain to me why Obama and his cronies have not gotten us out of Iraq and Afganistan. And do not tell me we are out of Iraq. There were three American soldiers killed there yesterday.

1

Robert Huron 1 year, 3 months ago

Just like Gitmo Congress will not let us get out as far as I can tell. We still have a $600 + million Embassy to support in Iraq and a $34 million Military Hq. that has never been used in Afghanistan they can't decide what to do with. There are members of Congress that still want us to get involved in Syria. Congress can cut off all the funds tomorrow and we'd be out in short order but they won't. Too many companies make too much money on wars and we get stuck with the bill. Were did the $2 Trillion spent on Iraq and the $850 Million spent on Afghanistan go. Follow the money and you will have your answer. .

2

Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 2 months ago

why can't the president issue an executive order to get us out of Afghanistan. That seemed to work for immigration and the Affordable Health Care Act. We don't need no stinking laws!

1

Robert Huron 1 year, 3 months ago

Correction-We have spent so far $850 Billion in Afghanistan not $850 Million.

0

jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Robert Very possible explanation but since Obama is Commander in Chief, all he has to do is issue an order "American troops, Pack up and come home." Another interpretation could be Obama is a spineless President with absolutely no leadership abilities. He is also a proven liar like almost all politicians as he promised to close GITMO. I actually voted for Obama the first time as the lesser of two evils. I did not vote for him the second time.

1

mark hartless 1 year, 3 months ago

Can't really blame you Jerry. John McCain for president? What a joke.

One could also add that both houses of congress were controlled for the first 2 years of Obama's presidency by his party. And they not only didn't close Gitmo, they re-newed the Patriot Act, increased drone attacks resulting in more civillian deaths, and participated in an all new war in Libya.

We are also learning now that they commenced or ramped up eaves-dropping on American citizens (including Robert) colluded with other government agencies to intimidate pollitical opposition, and smiled as if none of that was happening the whole way.

1

Bob Smith 1 year, 2 months ago

bahaha ha ha. big talker. just keep talking amigo. the boyz are reading every word and they got you - firmly - in the crosshairs. don't forget it my friend. .....makes me smile for some unknown reason...

0

mark hartless 1 year, 2 months ago

The reason it makes you smile is easily understood. It makes you smile because people like you are childishly ammused when they see gubbamint bullying their pollitical adversaries.Furthermore, it makes you smile because you likely lack the moral fiber to oppose ALL wrong across the spectrum; in fact you likely can not see or feel guilt at allexcept in a very, very limited spectrum. Instead, similar to an animal, you only oppose those things which conflict with your very limited sense of right and wrong.

2

Bob Smith 1 year, 2 months ago

be sure to say "hi" to dick when you see him on Lincoln. he loves guys like you, even if you can't see why. .. .. just keep reading Bastiat and Rand. Live it brother, right? Oh yah, BTW --> Tea Party hero Ayn Rand was also a kleptoparasite, sneakily gobbling up taxpayer funds under an assumed name to pay for her medical treatments after she got lung cancer. An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor). ... . As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help." ----> But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so...TYPICAL

0

john bailey 1 year, 2 months ago

hey, look Bobs back. where did your 3rd post go? it was profound. so anyway, what were you trying to say? I say lets flush the entire system and start over.....maybe with hula lessons first.~;0)

1

Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 2 months ago

On a lighter note - It is being reported that George Zimmerman has changed his name to Ben Ghazzi. Thus never having to worry that his name will never be mentioned by the president or the main stream media again.

3

mark hartless 1 year, 2 months ago

I have never said that I admired Ayn Rand, Bob. She likely had more in common with you than with me. She was, after all, a Godless, a-moral hypocrite. And, apparently like you she ended up dependant on the state. So the only meaningful difference between the 2 of you was that she was ambarrassed by her dependance on the state because, even in her Godless state of mind she knew it to be wrong, whereas your conscience does not lift you to that level of awareness, does it Bob??

Neither have I proclaimed the greatness, innocence, or magnanimity of the likes of Dick Cheney. You see, Bob, on the first part of the "Cheney" subject you and I are likely sympatico; that being that he is a dirtbag liar thief who should shut the hell up.

It is, however, on the second part of this equation where we so often find ourselves at odds. That is how to keep multitudes of corrupt men from infesting government.

Your "solution" is apparently to grow the institution (swamp) and empower it imensely. How that stops it from being a sponge for crooks such as those that infest it now is anyones guess, but apparently in your mind that's a winning strategy.

Mine is the opposite and much simpler: Shrink the swamp. In fact, drain it dry. Then there is, by default, less room for skumbags like Dick Cheney, Antony Weiner, etc, etc.

The reason you have trouble with this solution, Bob, is that you do not see a problem. Your limited animal-like senses have no problem lying down and doing nothing right next to the pain and suffering of your fellow men; especially as your baser instincts and desires are actua;;y fed by the cesspool on the Potomac. In other words, Bob: Of course the skum doesn't want the swamp drained.

2

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.